Thursday, 1 April 2010

War and Piste

Spring skiing. Splendid
I've been a bad, bad blogger recently because I've been working my fingers to the bone trying to get ready for vacation. Sorry.

Vacation eh? For someone who's scared of heights, doesn't like the cold and looks spectacularly silly in any hat, skiing may seem like an odd choice. But the family like it. So for the next two weeks we'll be in France (again), for a week of which we will be sliding down a big slippery hill on two planks, then riding up again on a cold wet windy seat, and repeating until it gets dark. And paying for the privilege.

But I am a veteran skier and I have strategies. Here they are.

1. Ski in late Spring. You can't lose. Either the snow has melted and you have a nice walk, or it hasn't. But you don't freeze on the long lift which inevitably stops ten yards from the top, as the ski school of five-year-olds who pushed past you in the queue, learn how not to get off.

2. Stop after each run, or during, or both, for a hot chocolate or a mulled wine, avoiding the very real danger of mountain dehydration. Keep a packet of Twiglets available for dipping purposes, and to replace essential minerals.

3. On a related note, always ski drunk, so you can be relaxed and even amused as you fall over, hit trees, lose a pole, collide with a French snowboarder, etc.

4a. If it's snowing, take the day off. The fresh snow will be ace the next day.

4b. If it's raining, take the day off. Rain on chairlifts is miserable.

4c. If it's sunny, take the day off. You risk sunburn ('raccoon eyes') or skin cancer in that thin mountain air.

4d. If it's foggy, go ski! No-one can see your poor technique, and the family get cold quickly, so they want to stop for chocolate more often.

5. If you need a pee, and have to duck into the trees, take your skis off first. Sliding out backwards with your salopettes round your ankles, leaving a trail, is not cool. Trust me on this one.

6. Use your poles to good effect. Plant between a Frenchman's skis to impede his progress as he tries to jump the line for the lift. Or when hurtling out of control, wedge them betwen the ground and your solar plexus for a very effective fast stop. Or as a last-ditch effort to snag the drag lift as you fall off it.

7. Avoid the rush! Don't start skiing until about 12:00, when all the French are stopping for lunch. Stop at 14:30, just as they're starting dessert.

8. If the Frenchman on the lift next to you lights a cigarette, don't be afraid to aim a fart at him. It's expected, although he may display his Gallic wit by trying to light it.

9. You know those pine trees all covered in snow? You know how soft they look? Well, they aren't.

10. Can we go sailing next year? Please?


  1. That's what you need; a nice Caribbean cruise where one hand always has a cocktail and the other, a curly wurly. None of this exertion lark!

    The Clean White Page

  2. hehehehe...

    This is awesome, I laughed the whole way through!

    I used to ski. I even thought it was fun! I haven't done it in years though (we're talking at least 10, possibly 15 years) so have forgotten the 'joys'.

    Now I take my vacations at the beach. Nothin' like sand in your crack to remind you why you don't need to ski any more.

  3. Skiing? Nope. Never. Not ever. And especially not in France. Hope you have fun, though!

  4. I can't ski. Know why?
    I can't get off the lift.

  5. i don't know about #3. you might puke on the slope and that really doesn't fan well for you.

  6. Gee, that sounds fun! ;-)

    I would probably end up punching out the queue-breaking Europeans and their ciggies.

    I love #5.

  7. I agree with Tina. It's time to start lobbying now.

  8. Ah, but hot chocolate tastes so much better when you've made it through the trees (literally) and down the slopes vs when you're resting on a sailboat. What am I saying? I vote for sailing. Hot chocolate's always good, and you could use the twiglets for an anchor.

  9. funny post.. I want pictures when you come back. Or at least a hot skier (male).

    I have skiied,, my feet hurt the whole time, I'll meet you in the lodge with the chocolate.

    and wtf is a twiglet.

  10. Thank you for eschewing 'piste' jokes. On the other hand you could have mentioned the innocent merriment to be had in 'accidentally' knocking an entire ski class over like dominos. Or the effect of button tows on French virility.

  11. You look silly in a hat. Well, provide us with evidence and I'll believe you. And yeah, you are a bad, bad blogger but I'll forgive you for a Twiglet.

  12. tip number 5 had me laughing out loud! Great mental visual it provides.

  13. Hahaha! You've made up for your absence with an excellent post!
    After my first and only distastrous attempt at skiing (ending in a stretcher rescue in a blizzard from the top of a French mountain!) I stick to snowshoeing...far more sedate :-)
    Enjoy and don't take the piste too much out of the French (or is that take the French off the piste too often?)

  14. Rubbish. You must ski sober, from first lift to last, regardless of weather. Having fun is only a part of skiing. The suffering sometimes must come first.

  15. Spring skiing season in New Hampshire lasts all of 12 seconds and it's that tiny little spot of time between snow turning to mud where you end up ruining your $600 pair of skis because you really wanted to wear your old Simpsons t-shirt again in public.


  16. I'm with you on this Urber. You can't move your feet for said boots, hot chocolate is much better, but remember not to use a Twiglet as a twizzle stick, a cinnamon stick is much better, you would look silly in a hat, and everything is better while you are slightly least it doesn't hurt at the time, but hurts like hell the next day!
    Glad to see you back!

  17. Hilarious! I love skiing and am rather good at it, and yet, to many of your above points I shouted "Yes". :D

  18. Tina ~ Oh. Made me all wistful, that did

    Krista ~ Ah ha! I like the variation on sand between the toes

    Blissed-OG ~ There speaks the voice of wisdom

    MiMi ~ Try my technique, of falling, with style

    Sarah ~ Eww. Didn't think of that

    RefGeek ~ That I'd like to see! Want to come along next year?

    Hunter ~ Yup, good plan on the lobbying. I'll catch Mrs G on the rainiest day

    Robyn ~ Next year! Next year!

    VL ~ I shall do a Twiglet post proper soon, promise

  19. Christopher ~ You're welcome! Failed with the title, though, eh?

    mo ~ I will, but it won't be pretty

    pixie ~ and it's all true

    Nat ~ Stretcher? This you have to blog! I look forward to it

    RT ~ Easy for you to say, Mr. BlackSlopeVrooom never-stop macho doublequick

    Moooooooooooog ~ I went to Killington once. That was fun, if you like ice

    Alice ~ Cinnamon! Now you're talking. I can see you've done this before

    RA ~ A pro eh? Cool

  20. Hehe. I'm glad you're keeping your strength up by packing lots of Twiglets...filled with vitamin B12 don't you know?! Hehe.

    You're brave though. Seriously. I could never ski- i'd probably end up dead in one of those soft looking trees. Yes. I'm THAT accident prone.

    Have a great time! :)

  21. I already did....
    Warning: long post but you can just look at the photographic evidence if you like ;-)

  22. Just saw your blog for the first time today. Love your writing style! Have a great weekend.

  23. Have fun skiing, and avoiding the French. I wish you every success in both endeavours.

  24. I think you got it bad for the French, Ubers....
    And? if it's white and fluffy or white and slushy, JenJen stays INDOORS. No skis for this fraidy cat. No Way.

  25. As a very tall man with no sense of balance, I do not foresee skiing in my future. But, in case of emergency, I salute your advice as sound, and consider myself thoroughly prepared. Good luck with the yacht, by the way - sailing's really dangerous. Indigo

  26. As a skier myself that is a truly epic list and all of which are true! Have you ever tried indoor skiing at a snowdome? or dry slope skiing? less chance of trees and most have toitlets!
    -and fewer frenchmen ;]

  27. UG ~ You are truly the master. I am not worthy to read you....but who's gonna stop me?

  28. You've been quoted! Make sure to grab the badge.

  29. Competition for you